EDP Pepto Crackerjax, a 3-year-old gelding owned by H4 Ranches Bart and Tana Hutton (who also own AllCat Claims), trained by Eight-time NFR Calf Roping Qualifier Justin Maass, came out on top of the leaderboard as the overall Roping Futurities of America’s Breakaway Slot Roping Champion and Super Horse of the event, which was held in Abilene, Texas, on Feb. 1, 2022.
The Super Horse title went to the horse with the most money won in two or more events, which “Jax” earned by winning $70,000 total in his first-ever competition underneath WPRA breakaway roper Tibba Smith. Kincade Henry rode Jax in the calf-roping.
“We didn’t do very good in the calf roping. It didn’t go nearly as good as it went with Tibba,” said Maass, owner and trainer of Maass Performance Horses. “Oddly enough, I really liked that horse better in the calf roping the entire time he was in training than I did in the breakaway. I’ve known that horse was good all along, but to have him step up and win that thing as the first-ever was a pretty exciting thing for a horse trainer.”
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“Since he was in the slot roping, he could not have been competed on before Tuesday night,” Smith added. “That was all of those horse’s first outings. We could exhibition them, but they could not have been competed on before.”
Though the horse is young, he has been a delight for Maass to train, especially as a horse purchased out of a South Texas cow sale in 2021.
“They sold two geldings before they started the cow sale and that was one of them,” Maass said. “[The Hutton’s] dropped him off at my house and he was long and gangly—had hair all over him. He looked pretty rough to be honest with you.”
“They had done a lot of cattle work on him as a 2-year-old in the spring of 2021,” Maass added. “I think I had him for almost nine months before the slot roping. He’s done everything that we wanted him to do. I didn’t think the horse, at first, had enough physical ability to be as good as he’s turned out to be. I thought he was really good-minded. He was willing to do what we wanted him to do. He’s kind of overachieved. He’s turned into a lot more than what I expected him to be.”
Smith and Jax won the RFA Slot Roping with an aggregate time of 7.83 seconds on two head, worth $60,000, and finished second in the second round with a 3.07-second run, worth $10,000.
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“That much money is a lot. It was pretty cool to do it for the first time,” said Smith, who works as an insurance adjuster for AllCat Claims Service, which is owned by the Huttons. “I have ran barrel horses for that kind of money, but I’ve never won that much. To do it for the first roping one was pretty awesome. We were really fortunate to draw a good one on our second one and come back to win second in the round and win the average.”
“It helped to be able to go down there and ride him that once to kind of get a feel,” Smith said. “It’s one of those things that you can either jump-ride good, or you don’t. Justin and I have been friends for a long time, so I knew his training techniques. We were fortunate enough to get that good calf on the second run and get it done.”
“Tibba did an outstanding job. I knew that she is one of the few top-notch breakaway ropers that is handy enough to ride a colt.” Maass concluded. “I can’t give her enough credit for how great a job she did of getting those two calves roped and ended up being the winner of that deal. We have asked that horse for a lot and he has taken every bit of it.”